German court rules RapidShare not liable for users’ actions

Nearly a year ago, a German court slapped filesharing site RapidShare with a $34m fine and ruled that the site must proactively root out pirates and prevent instances of copyright infringement in a suit filed by German royalty collectors GEMA.

Now a similar case brought by Capelight Pictures has been overturned by a court of appeals in Germany. The Dusseldorf Court of Appeals ruled that RapidShare is not liable for illegal actions carried out by those who use the service. RapidShare founder Christian chmid commented on the ruling:

“We are very happy about the judgment. The court has confirmed that RapidShare is not responsible for the contents of files uploaded by its users,” Rapidshare founder Christian Schmid said commenting to the outcome of the appeal.

“The judgment shows that attempts to denounce our business model as illegal will not be successful in the long run. With its 1-click-filehosting model, RapidShare responds to legitimate interests of its users and will continue to do so in the future,” Schmid added.

The court also rejected preventative measures such as keyword filtering and manually reviewing files, a Sisyphean task that anyone with any understanding of technology realizes is impossible. The court also decided not to order a ban of file formats like RARs because they’re merely tools to compress files- should we ban cars because sometimes people use them in the commission of crimes?

The ruling, a big victory for RapidShare, will hopefully be considered when similar cases are inevitably brought in the future. Hopefully American courts will look to the technologically sound points returned in the judgment when considering future cases involving copyright infringement.